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Boullée’s Cenotaph

Boullée’s cenotaph, designed in 1784, is apparently the most spectacular tribute ever conceived for Newton, both in terms of its scale and the power of its symbolism—a globe with a hollow interior. The design is composed of a two-tiered, stepped base on which is set a half-sphere which appeared to form a complete sphere thanks to a clever adaptation of the elevation: two concave ramps, guarded at their feet by ancient-style lionesses, create a bowl-like notch in the base where a semi-circular door leads to the interior; in particular, these two curves visually complete the sphere. A second, very narrow door is situated on the second tier, with no visible sign of access, in the middle of the pyramidal staircase leading to the upper terrace, which like the others is planted with cypress trees. The interior view is fascinating, for the isometric sphere is lit mysteriously, and glows with a kind of inner sun.

Boullée’s cenotaph, designed in 1784, is apparently the most spectacular tribute ever conceived for Newton, both in terms of its scale and the power of its symbolism—a globe with a hollow interior. The design is composed of a two-tiered, stepped base on which is set a half-sphere which appeared to form a complete sphere thanks to a clever adaptation of the elevation: two concave ramps, guarded at their feet by ancient-style lionesses, create a bowl-like notch in the base where a semi-circular door leads to the interior; in particular, these two curves visually complete the sphere. A second, very narrow door is situated on the second tier, with no visible sign of access, in the middle of the pyramidal staircase leading to the upper terrace, which like the others is planted with cypress trees. The interior view is fascinating, for the isometric sphere is lit mysteriously, and glows with a kind of inner sun.

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